Well it's 2007. the year that was 2006 has come and gone and I have to say it was a pretty great year. one thing i particularly enjoyed about it was listening to it's music. although this year didn't produce anything earth-shatteringly amazing, some original and refreshing albums emerged from a crowd of mediocrity. i've had a hard time deciding what should be on the list this year. there were a lot of albums that were good but not great, and there were also a lot of albums that were great but had a few songs that really hurt them. adding to the difficulty, a few of my favorite albums of this year were actually released last year. i spent a lot of time listening to them but obviously they can't be included in the best of 2006, although they will get their own special awards later on. so, the point is, this list was really hard to make and just about every album i mention below could be re-arranged to any position on the list.
As always, these are of the albums i heard that were released in the US this year. If you've got something you think I need to hear, please add a comment with it.
The Albums Of The Year (according to josh of course) 2006!!
The Forecast - "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen"
Half of this album is great. great choruses and fantastic female vocals. The other half is just not quite there. Two of my favorite songs of the year come from this album though so they need to be mentioned. "and we all return to our roots" & "(may you one day) carry me home". at least check out those songs if anything.
The Hush Sound - "Like Vines"
Something a little more mellow and refreshing for my tastes. "we intertwined" is one of my favorite songs of the year. The problems arrive with the second half of this one where "wine red" is really the only song that demands your attention. however it's still an all around great album that is probably one spot away from being in the top ten. they have a very notable live show worth mentioning also.
Hellogoodbye - "Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!"
This is actually a great album and it's hard to put it in the runners-up pile but here's my major gripe. "touchdown turnaround" sounds exactly like "bonnie taylor shakedown" from their EP. i mean exactly. sorry, but i can't get past it.
The Matches - "Decomposer"
This album has a very interesting sound to it. they've tweaked their style from the previous album and also thrown in a lot more variety in songs. it might have done better if there weren't as many weak songs as there are that really break-up the album.
I really like this band and there isn't anything really wrong with this album. i guess the problem is that nothing really stands out much either. if you liked their previous record, this is overall a better offering and definitely worth a listen.
Monty Are I - "Wall Of People"
These guys combine 80's hair band riffs with a pop-punk\screamo sound and a horn section. the result is five or six very good songs overshadowed by four or five mediocre ones.
Punchline - "37 Everywhere"
This is a great pop-punkish album with a few really fantastic songs. "They Are Strong Hands" really struck a chord with me. i'd recommend checking it out and deciding for yourself.
This Providence - "This Providence"
There's nothing particularly original here to push this into the top ten but it's a really solid album of catchy songs. that's probably all you really need to know.
The Top Ten:
I needed some sort of guide for checking out songs from albums in this list so i went with some hockey references. here's the legend:
Go-ahead Goal = The song you hear that makes you go "hey...i should check the rest of this out".
Empty-netter = The song that you somehow don't even notice for the first twenty listens but then you realize how awesome it is and it really drives the album home.
10. Pistolita - "Oliver Under The Moon"
This album really took me by surprise. i had heard a few songs including "beni accident" which got me interested. the first comparison i can drum up is to the casket lottery but most of you probably don't get that reference anyways so it's pretty pointless. this is categorized as indie rock i believe but there's a lot of influences here that you can pick up on. most notable are the geek rock progressions you'll here in "beni accident" and "papercut". I also felt like there were some similarities to nada surfs "high\low". i haven't mentioned the classical piano yet, which is a main instrument through the entire album. there's almost some meatloaf-esque piano stylings specifically on tracks like "age". all in all this is a refreshing look at indie rock that combines piano rock, alternative, and other genres to provide a solid album of great songs.
Go-ahead Goal: "Beni Accident"
Empty-netter: "Oliver Under The Moon"
9. Southcott - "Flee The Scene"
I remember being in the late great newbury street virgin megastore checking out some albums at the listening stations and i saw this one. i picked it up and put it down without a listen. a few months later i randomly downloaded it and was pleasantly surprised. i guess i still have that soft spot for pop-punk music. i love the mix on this disc. and by mix i mean the guitar sound and drum mixing. what really makes this a great album are the sing-able choruses. just about every song on this album has a great chorus that you can't help but sing along to. all the songs are about three minutes or less which makes the entire album clock in at only about twenty-seven minutes. there's nothing really new here besides an album full of great songs.
Go-ahead Goal: "Sin City: Your Bed Sheets, My Legacy"
Empty-netter: "The October Tradition"
8. Tool - "10,000 Days"
This is an amazing band. i don't think a lot of people give tool the time to amaze them. this is probably their worst album, which is saying a great deal for their other efforts. this isn't just another bad modern rock album like everyone who doesn't know anything about tool probably thinks it is. this band has some of the most talented musicians and song writers in any form of rock music. if you don't already love tool this one isn't going to sway your thinking. you'll like a few songs but will be put off by the abstractness of the rest. you can't really skip around with this one. you have to start from track one and strap in for the long haul (an hour and eleven minute ride). if you're going to skip around you'll end up on "vicarious", "jambi", and "the pot" which are great songs but won't give you the full effect.
Go-ahead Goal: "The Pot"
Empty-netter: "Right In Two"
7. Test Icicles - "For Screening Purposes Only"
I'm pretty sure this came out last year in the UK but it didn't see US release until early 2006. i could sit here and try to describe this to you but i'd fail miserably. ok i'll try. screamy vocals. i mean like, 13 year old boy screaming at his mom that she never lets him do anything kind of vocals (see "your biggest mistake" the opening track). add some synthesizers and oddly dance-able drum beats and you've got a basic description. if this album was ten songs long (there are three specific tracks i could do without) it would be higher in this list. the fact is that the fun, almost child-like attitude is hampered by a few just plain uninteresting songs ("sharks" & "dancing on pegs" for starters and "catch it" is half good, the great breakdown being the exception). but alas, you can't let a few songs bring down an original and entertaining album (not to completely contradict myself after the hellogoobye review or anything). i give this one two balls up! sorry...bad band name joke.
Go-ahead Goal: "Snowball"
Empty-netter: "Maintain The Focus"
6. The Mars Volta - "Amputecture"
Last year "frances the mute" had me captivated, intruiged, and longing for more. this year "amputecture" has me captivated, intruiged, and longing for more. there isn't a more interesting band to listen to than the mars volta right now. this isn't something you'll ever really sing along to. you won't tell your friends "i love that song". you probably wont ever put it in with the intention of listening to only one song in the first place. what will happen is you'll put this cd or record or tape in your player and you won't leave until its over. i can think of two times that i made it home before this album ended, but i drove around some more until it was done. this is meant to be listened to as a whole and not in parts. the preferred format is CD because there are no breaks between songs whatsoever, and without the magic of cd's you'll miss out on the experience. "amputecture" truly is an experience.
Go-ahead Goal: "Viscera Eyes"
Empty-netter: "Day of the Baphomets"
5. Gatsby's American Dream - "Gatsby's American Dream"
At first i was put off by this one. i loved last years "volcano" and i think i had expected something more adventurous from them this time around. but i gave it some time and it quickly sunk in how much BETTER this is than "volcano". gatsby has amazing riffs. there's something about the sound of their riffs that i just can't get enough of. i still haven't been able to really find every song on this yet, but i know it's going to be one of those albums that every song ends up on my playlists at one point or another.
Go-ahead Goal: "Station 5: The Pearl"
Empty-netter: "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"
4. Matchbook Romance - "Voices"
If you pass this up based on the "screamo" roots of their first full length you'll be seriously missing out. i heard this album and i thought "man this is great". then i heard the new muse album and thought "man, voices is what this should really sound like". it's true. voices is a better muse album than muse's own black holes & revelations. you can't deny the influence muse had to have had on this recording, but at the same time matchbook doesn't steal anything, they only incorporate it into their own style. the result is a surprisingly mature effort from a talented band whom i never would have guessed could produce something like this. even at number four this is an album that you simply have to check out.
Go-ahead Goal: "Monsters"
Empty-netter: "Singing Bridges (We All Fall)"
3. Men, Women & Children - "Men, Women & Children"
That's right baby, disco's back. but don't panic, this isn't another fallout boy clone. this is some serious disco beats. it's pretty clear why i love this album when the verse for the opening track "dance in my blood" kicks in. its just plain fun to listen to. this is one of those cd's you put in at a party while noones looking and you hear everyone ask "who is this?". sure i may seem slightly homosexual cruising through the streets of boston blasting this but trust me, you wont be able to contain the need to groove. speaking of gay, these guys aren't exactly hitting for the straight team with lines like "just keep it moving like a hurricane, turn me around again, just keep it shaking like a rattlesnake, now just jump right out of your skin". regardless, this is some seriously fun music that even the manliest man can't deny.
Go-ahead Goal: "Photosynthesis (We're Losing O²)"
Empty-netter: "Time For The Future (Bang Bang)"
2. Arctic Monkeys - "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not"
Another late great newbury street virgin megastore purchase that quickly became my most listened to album of the year. i couldn't put this down for about six months. i remember buying it because the guitars kinda sounded like some toadies songs. i didn't regret my decision. there's really only a few songs that aren't great on this album and even those are still good songs. unfortunately the only thing really stopping this from being number one is the fact that it came out in january and im just not into it as much as i was ten months ago. i can always count on this when i need a good energetic alternative album to get me going. plus its always fun to sing like a british guy...
Go-ahead Goal: "When The Sun Goes Down"
Empty-netter: "From The Ritz To The Rubble"
1. Forgive Durden - "Wonderland"
Its not very often that a band can blatantly rip-off another band and come up with something this good. forgive durden clearly was heavily influenced by gatsbys american dream. there's really no question about it. the amazing thing is that they managed to construct a better all-around album than gatsby has to date. "wonderland" is more of the adventurous album i was looking for from gatsby. instead it comes in the form of the debut album from this talented and lyrically creative band. "wonderland" carries a certain feeling throughout each song yet at the same time you feel like each track has its own style. the only thing that's disappointing about this record is that i'm almost out of songs to put on my playlists!
Go-ahead Goal: "Ants"
Empty-netter: "For A Dreamer, Night's The Only Time Of Day"
Other Fun Categories:
Best Album From Last Year That I Didn't Hear Until This Year: Bayside "Bayside"
Most Disappointing Album: Brand New "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me"
Longest Song Title: Moneen "The Frightening Reality Of The Fact That We Will All Have To Grow Up And Settle Down One Day"
Best EP: Say Anything "...Was A Real Boy"
Best Live Show: Electric Eel Shock @ The Middle East Upstairs
Most Obnoxiously Overplayed Song: Nelly Furtado "Promiscuous"
Best Ever Song About Waffles: Parry Gripp "Do You Like Waffles?"
Person Who's Sad I Couldn't Think Of Any Songs About Pirates From This Year: Me
Best Album Ending: The Mars Volta "Amputecture" (it seriously ends out of nowhere. think halo two.)
Speaking of awesome endings.